“Can the Christian Now Believe in Evolution?”
A review article, excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 97.12 (24 March 1927): 8.
By Rev. Samuel C. Hodge
This is the title of a book recently published by Rev. William Hallock Johnson, Ph.D., D.D., now president of Lincoln University. It is interesting, as coming from the pen of the new president of Lincoln University. In these days, when we are wondering what our colleges are teaching, it is refreshing to read a book like this on the most vital question of the day as concerning science and religion, and to find that the author’s belief in the validity of the Scriptures is expressed with no uncertain sound. The whole subject is treated in a most scholarly manner. His conclusions are stated with such clearness and boldness that none can misunderstand him. It is the best handbook on evolution yet published, and should be in every minister’s library.
Dr. Johnson refers to the trial at Dayton, two summers ago, and says that “neither the arguments in the court room nor the discussions in the press can be said to have been specially illuminating.” “The Dayton trial, however, set a great many people to thinking, and most people, whatever their prejudices, want to know the facts.” I know of no book that gives them the facts in brief space better than this little volume of less than two hundred pages. Dr. Johnson is well qualified for his task, due to his wide reading along philosophical and theological lines, to say nothing of his mastery of the present-day literature of evolution on its biological side. In every phase of the subject he shows himself the thorough, painstaking scholar. He carefully traces the drift of opinion in scientific circles, and the conclusions reached are less his own than the inevitable trend of scientific thinking that in the end must stand on the ultimate facts of the case. Of course, to appreciate this book, one must read it. To one interested in the subject, after beginning, it is difficult to lay it down. Dr. Johnson begins with a brief survey of the history of the present-day discussion, and then, in order, he takes up such questions as : “Can Belief in God and Evolution Live Together?” “The Origin of Life,” “The Origin of Man,” “The Bones and the Stones,” “The Metaphysical Review,” “Evolution and the Fall,” “Evolution and Revolution,” “Evolution and Miracle.”
Throughout the discussion one is impressed more and more with the total lack of evidence for evolution. Fifty years ago, it started on its career, and during this time there have been the most searching tests of all kinds made by scientific men to verify it, with the result that it is far harder to believe in evolution to-day than when Darwin first propounded it. The following quotations taken here and there in the book will give in substance the general conclusions reached:
“The strict evolutionary view of man’s origin has in fact become more difficult to hold as anthropological science has progressed. When evolution in its theory of human descent was a chain hanging by a missing link, it could be said that the link could be found at any time. Now the number of links have been multiplied indefinitely. The chain has been stretched out for one or two million years, and all traces of it in the direct line, it is commonly admitted, are ‘spurlos gesenkt.’ ” “If the starting point of the development is unknown; the course of the development is unknown, and the method of the development is unknown, the fact of the development may well be doubted.”
Dr. Johnson calls attention to the fact that in its inner philosophic content, evolution contradicts reason in that it forever postulates an inadequate cause for the results. Out of nothing we cannot get something, nor out of the less can we get the greater. He quotes Alfred Noyes as follows: “We explain man by something less, and that again by something less, until we have whittled away all things visible and invisible. We have deliberately taught ourselves to look downward into nothingness, though true science and true religion and every natural instinct of religion would teach us to look upward to the ever-expanding heavens and the infinite power of God.” “No discoveries of science,” says Dr. Johnson, “can do away with the law of causation which is the foundation of all science.”
His final conclusion is as follows: “The growing skepticism of the evolutionists as to the factors of evolution is being matched by a growing skepticism among the intelligent public as to the fact. In the present state of scientific opinion, the religious thinker will see everything to justify the belief that the science of to-morrow will be different from the science of t0-day, and he will see nothing to forbid the conviction that the word of the Lord endureth forever.”
West Chester, Pa.
”I take the view of those who say that the greatest hoax of the last hundred and fifty years has been the theory of evolution. It has hoaxed the vast majority of people. It was originally a theory, but it has been turned and twisted as if it were a fact that everyone believes. But it is pure dogmatic assertion. It is nothing beyond a supposition.” ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones